FEATURE: 12.01.20 – Today is Giving Tuesday and while the day is supposed to be all about donating to a charitable cause, that doesn’t mean you can’t also think about what you’re going to give as a gift to the Apple fan in your life for the holidays this year.
The days of trying to select which of the many gift cards to give to an Apple fan for the holidays out of the different choices the Cupertino, California-based company offers for its goods and services — from the Apple Store to iTunes and the App Store — are finally behind us because, this holiday season? There’s just one to choose from.
Introducing the new Apple Gift Card — available for purchase online as physical cards for mailing (or e-card format for emailing) to the recipient — which was quietly introduced without much fanfare by the company over the Summer and replaces the gift cards for the Apple Store, iTunes, and the App Store.
Some of you may have only heard about the Apple Gift Card for the very first time after taking part in Apple’s 4-Day Shopping Event that took place from Black Friday through Cyber Monday this year where shoppers received a free gift card (worth up to $150) with the purchase of any qualifying product. And, unless you were actively shopping for one of those since discontinued gift cards over the Summer (for whatever the occasion may have been) whether virtually online or physically at a retail store (assuming your local establishment wasn’t temporarily closed due to the global pandemic), you probably would have never known about the change.
Before the change took place, searching for what to get the Apple fan in your life (especially for the holidays) used to be difficult since you didn’t know which of the company’s products the person may have wanted, considering that there were separate gift cards to choose from, each one with its own purpose: the Apple Store, iTunes, and the App Store. Plus, you only could use a gift card for the store that it specifically was designed for and it wasn’t interchangeable between the other stores. Now, with just one choice (albeit, sporting different designs to choose from) it’s even easier for both the person buying the gift to give and the individual who will be receiving it.
So, just what is this Apple Gift Card good for?
According to information that Apple provides on its website, it does it all (and then some). In addition, cardholders now have the option to retain an Apple Account Balance where available funds on the account can be redeemed towards the company’s goods and services and when your balance is depleted, you can easily reload money onto the gift card and use it all over again and buy even more to your heart’s (or wallet’s) content.
With one gift card for “everything Apple,” you can purchase any of the following from the company’s vast ecosystem of products:
- hardware like the iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Pro Display XDR
- devices like the Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
- smart home products like the HomePod and HomePod mini
- wearables like AirPods, AirPods Pro, Apple Watch, and Beats headphones
- accessories like the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad (or Lightning and USB-C cables etc.)
- software from the App Store and the Mac App Store
- content like songs, ringtones, movies, and television shows from the iTunes Store or e-books from the Apple Books Store
- services like Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple News+, and Apple TV+
- (and more including paying monthly fees for iCloud storage)
It is not clear — since it was not included or mentioned on the company’s website — whether the Apple Gift Card can be used to make payments for services like repairs at the Genius Bar or for purchasing AppleCare and AppleCare+ warranties (either for a one-time payment or monthly payments). Furthermore, it is not known if third party products sold through both of Apple’s retail and online stores can be purchased with the gift card.
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Old Is New
You might be asking yourself, but what about the old gift cards that you may have for the Apple Store, iTunes, and the App Store? According to the company on its website, the old ones — which since have been discontinued — are as good as new.
On its website, the company indicated that you still can use the Apple Store Gift Card during checkout: either at Apple (retail locations and online at apple.com), when using the Apple Store app on mobile devices, or when ordering by phone at 1-800-MY-APPLE.
As far as the iTunes Gift Card and App Store Gift Card are concerned, there’s a caveat. Cardholders are directed to redeem those by transferring any available funds on the gift cards to an Apple Account Balance on an Apple Gift Card which you then can use to purchase the company’s goods and services using that new gift card.
However, what remains to be seen — since it was not indicated on Apple’s website — is whether the discontinued sale of the iTunes Gift Card and the App Store Gift Card were only at Apple (both retail and online stores) or if the discontinuation also has applied to third party resellers (e.g., Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target, and Walmart) and if remaining supplies of those old gift cards will continue to be sold elsewhere outside of the company until they run out. In addition, it is not known if there eventually will be a cutoff / expiration date for their redemption.
The consolidation to a single gift card for “everything Apple” is a benefit to consumers as it effectively reduces the amount of confusion that sometimes accompanied the purchase or receipt of the different gift cards that were available for the Apple Store, iTunes, and the App Store (such as the individual I heard about from a consumer report on my local news station who inadvertently bought an iTunes Gift Card thinking that the person they were gifting it to could use the funds to buy physical goods at an Apple retail store).
In addition, one of the ultimate benefits of having just one gift card that does it all is that it also reduces the amount of plastic waste that ends up in, and ends up harming, the environment. By reducing the amount of plastics used to manufacture multiple gift cards that all technically serve the same purpose — purchasing goods and services in the Apple ecosystem — this saves the Earth’s own ecosystems in the process. Although not explicitly stated by the company, the very fact that the Apple Gift Card can be retained and reused by consumers could be yet another one of Apple’s efforts to be lighter on the planet.
The Apple Gift Card, which is issued by Apple Value Services, LLC, is valid only for transactions towards Apple properties made in the U.S. and is solely for the purchase of the company’s goods and services from apple.com, Apple retail stores, the Apple Store app, the App Store, the iTunes Store, Apple Books, Apple Music, Apple TV, and other Apple properties. Additionally, the gift card is not redeemable at Apple authorized resellers or for cash at an Apple retail store. Furthermore, no refunds or exchanges will be given except as required by law.
As a reminder, Apple has instructed cardholders not to share one’s code and to beware of scams (see “About Gift Card Scams” on its website) which request payment via an Apple Gift Card (including gift cards for iTunes, the App Store, or the Apple Store) outside of payments made directly towards the purchase of Apple goods and services. The company has clearly stated that it is not responsible for the unauthorized use of your gift card.
Already have an Apple Gift Card? Redeem it or reload funds onto it by visiting the “Apple Gift Cards” page on apple.com. For assistance with your gift card, call (800) 275-2273 or visit: support.apple.com/giftcard.
A Note from the Author: Apple was contacted for clarification on questions revolving around issues related to the new Apple Gift Card that were not immediately clear from the information provided on the company’s website but it did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.